Léconi Canyons

The small town of Léconi is the eastern side of the River Léconi. It is the location of Andza, Gabon’s only mineral-water company. Mostly, though, it is a convenient base from which to visit the Léconi Canyons (eroded sand escarpments) and Léconi Park. Léconi is the last place of tourist interest before the border with Congo, and immigration and customs are based here.

According to local belief, these stunning red and gold canyons are home to spirits and those who enter into the canyons themselves will never return.

There are about three canyons in the area, but the prettiest and most visited red (also called pink) canyons lie 10km beyond Léconi town. They can only be reached in a 4x4. Even if you have your own car, it is best to take a guide, as the route is not always obvious (during the rainy season sections of it are flooded). The road emerges at the lip of a cliff without warning, and you’ll find yourself looking down into twin canyons, the larger ‘male’ canyon and the smaller ‘female’ one behind. There is a trail along the edge of the male canyon, leading to the female one. According to local belief, the canyons are home to spirits and those who enter will never return.

Strictly speaking these are not canyons, but semicircular craters in the rock, with knobbly fingers of rock poking up from the crater floor, and clumps of tall trees interspersed between them. At sunset the rocks glow red and gold. The lake beyond is the Lac aux Caïmans (Caiman Lake), which should probably be named Crocodile Lake. Either way, hunters have ensured that there’s very little here any more.

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